December 27th, 2007
12:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama makes his closing case in Iowa

(Photo credit: AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Before a wildly enthusiastic standing room only crowd in downtown Des Moines, Barack Obama delivered the closing argument of his Iowa campaign Thursday. He framed his campaign as the only one aspiring to the true possibility of a better America and he called on his audience to reject the anger and appeals to fear that he suggest are coming from both Sen Clinton and Sen John Edwards campaigns.

Challenging Sen. Clinton’s claim that her Washington experience makes her best positioned to enact reforms, Obama said “you can’t at once argue that you’re the master of a broken system in Washington and offer yourself as the person to change it.” Taking on her vote on the Iraq war, he charged, “You can’t fall in line behind the conventional thinking on issues as profound as war and offer yourself as the leader who is best prepared to chart a new and better course for America.” In another not-so-thinly veiled attack on Senator Clinton he denounced Democrats who engage in “the same politics of fear”, who “invokes 9/11 as a way to scare up votes.”

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer quickly reacted to the speech, saying, “Now is not the time for political attacks, it's time to pick a president who can give us a new beginning in a time of war and a troubled economy."

"There are big stakes in this election – Iowans are going to pick the candidate best able to make the change we need starting on day one and that candidate is Hillary Clinton," he added.

Turning to John Edwards’ message that the struggle against special interests requires head-on confrontation that only Edwards is willing to engage in, Obama offered this: “There are others in this race who sy that this kind of change sounds good but that I’m not angry or confrontational enough to get it done. Well let me tell you something, Iowa. I don’t need any lectures on how to bring abut change because I haven’t just talked about it on the campaign trail, I fought for change all my life."

The speech, which lasted about 25 minutes, was billed as the debut of a honed message that the Obama campaign hopes will deliver him this first-in-the nation state and give him the momentum to win in New Hampshire and beyond. The speech was filled with talk of hope and change – his theme throughout the campaign. At one point he insisted of Washington “we don’t need more heat, we need more light.” The speech was littered with references to cynics, and those engaged in a “divisive food fight” in Washington; He also thanked the crowd for letting him run what he insists is a positive campaign. “You have vindicated me Iowa,” he declared.

The boisterous audience made up largely of voters who are already committed to Obama, gave him rounds of rousing applause. Some of the loudest came when he insisted votes have a change to “build a new majority of not just Democrats, but Independents and Republicans who’ve lost faith in their Washington leaders ,but want to believe again – who desperately want something new.” He went on to insist he’s the most electable of the Democratic field.

He closed with an impassioned call to aspire to something better than the red-blue divide in politics. “This is the moment, this is our time, and if you will stand with me in seven days …we will change the course of history.”

- CNN's Jessica Yellin

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. Tammy, Denton, Maryland

    I think Sen. Obama's remarks were spot on. I truly do not understand how the country could even consider voting for Sen. Clinton based on her argument of experience.

    Learning that Sen. Clinton didn't even have a security clearance during Bill's time as president makes it crystal clear that Sen. Clinton's 1990s "experience" was derived from pillow talk. It also clarifies why Sen. Clinton does not want to release her White House papers. What else would we learn about her lack of experience?

    It's illogical for Sen. Clinton to claim that she can fix things when she's been part of the problem. She's been in Washington long enough that if she wanted to fix things, if she had any intention of fixing things, she would have offered up some legislation to that effect.

    John Edwards isn't much better. He has apologized for every significant vote he cast during his six years in the senate. He apologized for voting for the bankruptcy bill, no child left behind, supporting NAFTA, the Iraq war, etc. John Edwards spent six years wasting the taxpayers dime only to now ask us to reward him with the presidency.

    I truly hope my fellow Americans are paying attention and looking at what these folks HAVE NOT DONE, rather than listening to what they say the will do.

    I figure if you were in the position to make change and you haven't done it by now, you never will. Why would I be foolish to believe that you would make changes beneficial to the American people as president if you didn't do it as a one term Senator or as former first lady now serving as a US Senator?

    December 27, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. Ellie, Salem OR

    Man, could they have selected a more heroic photo of Obama? Too bad he's not talking real issues that voters care about. Many of us are still waiting to hear something specific about his plan to "chart a better course for America", some real red meat we can sink our teeth into. This speech of Obama's in Des Moines was more of what we've been hearing all along, generalities: dreams, hope and change, "less heat and more light", and so forth. I was puzzled when he thanked the crowd for allowing him to run a positive campaign. He has been ripping into Hillary, twisting her words and agenda to suit his purposes, non-stop for months. He did have a great, inspiring closing line but I 'm afraid that's not enough.

    December 27, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. Pope, Houston, Texas

    I want a video, Go B, Go

    December 27, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  4. Connie, Tn.

    He is the only candidate who has a chance to unite this country plus build better relations with foreign countries. The other candidates are "just more of the same".

    December 27, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Janice, Alberta

    God! Please anything but a video! He isn't saying anything that the other candidates haven't said before him.

    Ellie, I totally agree with what you wrote!

    December 27, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Andrew

    Here is the text of his remarks:

    "If you want to elect an inexperienced one year Senator who has not co-sponsored or authored any single major piece of legislation. If you want a man who played the politcal game in the Illinios legislature by voting "present" when votes came that would force me to take a clear position and perhaps jeopardize my political career. If you want talk of change and not real change. If you want a man who admits to pot smoking and cocaine use in his past with a cavalier for me, vote Obama".....

    December 27, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. Matt, Houston, TX

    Ellie, if you're still waiting for specifics about his plan, either you've been sleeping, not paying attention, have not done any research or all of the above. This was not a major policy speech but a wrap up of his message. I challenge you to name one candidate that has put 'red meat' in every one of their speeches.

    His 'ripping into Hillary', as you put it, has been simply responding to personal attacks on him by her and her campaign staff, and getting the upper hand. When he questioned her experience, it was because she had already questioned his. Who came out with the 'drug user' attack? Did he point out any of her youthful foibles and question whether she should be President because of them? No. The only time he points out negatives is to point out the hypocracy of throwing stones and living in a glass house. I have yet to hear of an unprovoked negative personal comment about another candidate from Barack.

    This is a man who doesn't back down from his principles, confronts inaccurate comments, admits to having made mistakes but learning from them and talks of the equality and rights of everyone. Can Hillary say the same? I think not.

    December 27, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. Aaron in NH

    Imagine what it will be like to admire our President.
    Obama '08

    December 27, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Moustapha Diatta, Bethesda MD

    Decent and good people of IOWA,
    America is counting on YOU!
    He is smart, well educated, very human, warm and poised. Please, please send him on his way to the White House. Of course, he alone can´t save the world but at least he can inspire us to do better, to reach for greater things. And, as the writer said, "when each of us have achieved our personal legends", then the world will truly see the meaning of E PLURUBUS UNUM, our enemies might remain our enemies but will respect us a little more and our children might call us "The Second Greatest Generation" for we dared to call for change, for we believed that our veterans have the rights to full benefits, that our foreign policy should not just be about our friends and allies but also about our adversaries, that our potential as a NATION stretched out further than the intrinsic limitations of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, that good quality Health Care should be availavle and affordable to all, that social security is the sacred trust of the nation and he should remain sacred and solvent, and that the middle class in America should be protected and respected for being the backbone of the country.
    VOTE OBAMA on JAN 3rd, 2008
    I am not associated with his campaign at all. I am actually writing this from a Region of Spain called "Badajoz". I just believe that the "urgency of now" demands that we ELECT A LEADER LIKE MR. OBAMA.

    December 27, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. Eben

    Its about time we Americans put aside the political divide and confront the pertinent issues such as war, economic woes and the on going creation of enemies abroad. Obama is young energetic, intelligent (at least more than Hilary), outspoken, sincere and real about who he is. Obama has maintained the same VOICE PITCH over the course of his campaign (unlike Hilary who tried to soften her voice as if it were being run through an audio mixer so she could appear humble and truthful like Obama. What America needs now is a true and dedicated individual regardless of background who can put a spin on business as usual in Washington.

    Voting for a power hungry hawk? Not me! Never! Hilary's campaign was so desperate about wining the house to the extent that Bill Clinton had to lie again about him and former Bush embarking on a tour to restore America's image abroad; only to find out it was a lie. G.W. Bush said and I quote, " I guess it would be a one man tour". When at all will the Clintons stop telling lies.

    Obama is the guy. Better still Obama-Edwards ticket would be a very powerful team to win the Whitehouse and bring us all together as one people, one nation under God.,

    Eben (Mufty), Minnesota

    December 27, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Michele, Huntington Beach, CA

    Ellie: If you want real red meat, check out Details of the many issues he addresses can be found there. A 25-minute speech necessarily focuses more on generalities and inspiration than specifics. Also, Obama has not been ripping into Hillary; quite the opposite. He deflects her constant attacks and criticisms by pointing out differences in their stances. Actually, he has at times been complimentary of her political skills; he just thinks he'd make a better president, and I agree with him. I think if detractors like yourself took time to look a little deeper into Barack Obama, rather than so superficially, you might come around - or at least be able to make a sound judgment based on facts rather than emotion. I urge you to read both of Obama's books: "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope." They tell you more about the man and his beliefs and vision for our country than one speech ever could. Besides, they're both really good reading.

    December 27, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |

    stop hatin on obama andrew! excellent speech ,senator. IOWA, ALL EYES ON YOU, PLEASE START THE BALL ROLLIN 4 US! OBAMA 08!

    December 27, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. Mike in NC

    I have been watching aircraft fly all my life... I guess that would make me an expert and qualified to fly a 787. You people say you want experience. Some one who can lead day 1. Well that some one got it wrong on Iraq, got it wrong on Iran, and will get it wrong on Pakistan. I have nothing against people who support this some one. I just find it amazing that you can look the other way when obvious errors in judgment have flawed the experience. As the husband of the one you support once said, you can “have the right kind of experience or the wrong kind of experience.” Well he just made my point more sound.

    December 27, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Darren

    The shock and awe of the Bush administration has sparked the populace to look deeper than name recognition. They are seeing Hillary Clinton for what she is – an intensely caring woman who has battled her entire life but was, and still is, consumed by the battle.

    Barack Obama can see past the everlasting and vindictive political battles which sidetrack Hillary Clinton.

    If our party chooses her, instead of Obama who will do the best job to solve the most pressing issues without vindictiveness, she will only continue battling for her own political capital instead of remaining on task to work for the people to get things done.

    December 27, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. blair Ivy Georgia

    Look at Obama's eyes in the picture above. I see cold stark hatred.Then look at Obama's face taken with the veteran. That is not a look of compassion and sympathy. To me it is a smirk and the look of someone that just realized his scam was taken hook line and sinker.
    Obama said
    "I don’t need any lectures on how to bring about change because I haven’t just talked about it on the campaign trail, I fought for change all my life."
    Sorry, I do not care what change he has fought for to change his life style. What change has he fought for all the people in the United States.?

    December 27, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. lora

    The shock and awe of the Bush administration has sparked the populace to look deeper than name recognition. They are seeing Hillary Clinton for what she is – an intensely caring woman who has battled her entire life but was, and still is, consumed by the battle.

    Barack Obama can see past the everlasting and vindictive political battles which sidetrack Hillary Clinton.

    If our party chooses her, instead of Obama who will do the best job to solve the most pressing issues without vindictiveness, she will only continue battling for her own political capital instead of remaining on task to work for the people to get things done.

    December 27, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. AJ, IL

    I agree with you Michele. I've looked at Obama's books and his elected public experience and compared them to Hillary's. I find Hillary inadequate. Even though I had an initial bias against Hillary, I figure I should at least take a look at her public record, excluding most of her White House years because their is no official record of her impact. I want a president who is a uniting figure and inspires me to act in the best interest of my country and the world. Honestly, if Hillary wasn't still married to Bill Clinton, I'm sure I would have Bill Richardson or John Edwards as my second candidate choice.

    December 27, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. jw, canadian,ok

    Why is the picture so freaking big?

    December 27, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. lora

    CNN omits any commentary not supporting their chosen candidate. I have a question: What caused this allegiance to Clinton? I always thought CNN was a unbiased, fine news outlet, but at some point, obviously, things have changed.

    It won't work. And people are never going to hold you as credible after this. I hope you got something great out of thrashing your integrity.

    December 27, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. Matt, Houston, TX

    Get a grip, Andrew. You sound like a HRC plant, or an RNC plant. You've totally misrepresented every aspect of the situations in every point you tried to make. He's held public office longer than HRC and been a Senator for longer than a year, made his 'present' votes when he could neither support or oppose a piece of legislation or was doing it for a specific reason and did not use 'cavalier disregard' when discussing his drug use, rather used his very much in the past drug use to illustrate how it was getting him no where fast. I haven't got a clue about what you meant by your 'change' statement.

    if you have real, fact based criticisms, fine, let's hear them, otherwise keep your unfounded demagogary to yourself. You are just making yourself sound foolish.

    December 27, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  21. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    If you have no idea what Obama's SPECIFIC policy proposals are by now ......YOU ARE SOMEONE INCAPABLE OF EDUCATING YOURSELF AND ARE THE KIND OF PERSON THAT RELIES ON THE MEDIA FOR INFORMATION....and you shouldn't be allowed to vote in this country.....

    December 27, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  22. Jim, Cherokee

    Clinton/Obama 2008 a sure win for the DEMOCRATS

    December 27, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. Linoq

    Well said Michele. Of all the Democratic candidates the only one offering real change from what we have now is Obama. By the way what we have now is:

    1) USA losing ground to other countries thanks to this administration selling USA cheap, bickering in congress, etc...

    2) Privacy being attacked

    3) A congress that acts as 3 years olds

    4) The power on the hands of big companies

    I could go on forever. Clinton is good but is the old school and we would have more of the same bickering. Besides that we cannot count her 8 years as first lady as experience, otherwise we would have to consider Laura Bush a experienced candidate. Edwards seems to phony for me, it seems he wants to be president for power, to feel good, not to make anything better. Giuliani is another Bush, my way or the HWY and we cannot afford more of that. Romney is another phony, a politician as usual. McCain is good, a real patriotic man who as Obama wants the best for America, not much for their parties, but he sold himself to the Bushes. In fact we DO need a lot of change, and the only ones to bring us that are Obama and then McCain. I wish luck to these two........

    December 27, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. Matthew Sutton, Central Point, Oregon

    Hey Andrew, those are pretty slanderous remarks.

    Voting "present" on 130 out of 4,000 bills is not a big deal.

    He was a leader in the Illinois legislature, and better yet had a reputation for honesty.

    He also led the push with Russ Feingold for the most sweeping ethics reform legislation that was enacted since the 1970's.

    He is now proposing even more sweeping ethics and transparency in government reforms.

    Senator Obama has actually been an elected official for more years than Hillary or Edwards. He has also spent about 10 years as a Constitutional Law professor.

    Nice try Andrew.

    December 27, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. Hakim Rasheed, Pittsburgh, PA

    Clinton has continuously gotten a pass with respect to her vote for the Iraq war, going with Bush on Iran, and her continued refusal to give straight answers to real, pressing questions facing our nation. It is laughable to suggest that she is going to bring about any real change. Vote Obama please! He is the only major candidate with the judgement to oppose the Iraq debacle when it wasn't politically convenient; to tell people the truth, in good and bad times. Also, I am amazed at how many people keep falling for the so-called experience argument the Clinton camp keeps trying tp make. the fact is this: she's a one term senator running on her husband's Presidency. Obama has been in elected office longer than Clinton or Edwards, and he's running on his own record.

    December 27, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
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